My Boss “Blanks” #Lean


As a child of the 70s and 80s, I like classic game shows. Last week, I used a photo from “Family Feud” in a post (albeit the more modern incarnation) and today I have the classic show “Match Game” on my mind.

The host, Gene Rayburn, would ask celebrity panelists a question… it was really more of a sentence with a “blank” in it. The celebrities would write a word down on a card and the contestants would guess what the celebrities wrote and you got more points for each match.


I was thinking of a Lean version of this game… and the first question I posed to people on Twitter and LinkedIn was:

“The senior leaders in my organization ________ Lean”

I often hear people say things like endorse, support, sponsor, champion, etc.

The senior leaders in my organization endorse Lean.

What does it mean to “endorse” Lean? Too often, it means they are saying that Lean is a good thing, but they aren't participating.

The senior leaders in my organization sponsor Lean.

What does it mean to “sponsor” Lean? Does that mean they are writing a check for a consultant? I hope they're learning and also leading by example, rather than expecting an outsider to make them Lean.

Here are some of the responses that I got from people (some of them more positive than others):

  • encourage
  • promote
  • embrace
  • uses the buzzword
  • have yet to see the benefits of
  • reward
  • are disconnected, much less
  • bleed
  • are slowly embracing
  • integrate
  • have adopted the wrong tools for
  • misunderstand
  • sometimes confuse 5S and
  • pray for
  • don't act
  • are encouraging the use of
  • shun
  • pretend to incorporate

The senior leaders in my organization pretend to incorporate Lean.


How would you fill in that blank? Leave a comment on this post…

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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